Joint Committee on The Draft Communications Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee (CCG)

  1.  The Gaelic Broadcasting Committee [CCG] welcomes the opportunity to make representations to the Scrutiny Committee on the Draft Communications Bill published in May 2002.

  2.  CCG has already welcomed the commitment, in the policy document accompanying the Draft Communications Bill, to make a number of reforms to the existing framework for Gaelic Broadcasting.

  3.  CCG agrees that the current arrangements for Gaelic broadcasting are not as efficient as they could be in delivering a service that meets the legitimate expectations of Gaelic speakers [CM5508-111 May 2002, p.52]. In particular, CCG supports the intention for the new Gaelic broadcasting structure to have powers to develop a "programming strategy in addition to its current funding role".

  4.  It is important that the need of the Gaelic audience for a comprehensive range of programmes at suitable viewing times is met under the new structural arrangements that are proposed. To meet the needs of Gaelic speakers in the developing digital environment, the Gaelic organisations representing their interests should have the freedom to place a Gaelic service on the network or networks that are most accessible and convenient to Gaelic audiences, wherever they are, to guarantee the most effective service.

  5.  This would give the organisation the ability both to respond to the changing needs of the Gaelic community and to take advantage of changing conditions as new platforms establish the necessary reach, and carriage costs decline.

  6.  CCG is conscious that the new Communications Act will cover the period in the transition from analogue to digital and beyond, and will, therefore, shape the future of Gaelic broadcasting in a crucial period in the development of the language. CCG, therefore, believes that provision in the Act should safeguard and build on the current strengths of Gaelic broadcasting and proactively facilitate development to meet the needs of the Gaelic audience in the changing broadcasting environment.

  7.  To these ends, CCG proposes that:

    —  The Communications Bill, being a deregulatory facilitative mechanism, should remove prohibitions on action by CCG in current legislations, for example prohibition on commissioning programmes

    —  facilitative provision be included in the Bill to enable the new Gaelic broadcasting organisation, not only to plan a programme service envisaged in the Policy Statement, but to execute and deliver it under licence from OFCOM

    —  the organisation should be free to contract with any analogue or digital platform for delivery as best fits the requirements of the audience

    —  that the core service be designated as public service broadcasting funded from public sources, augmented by commercial revenues

    —  the existing requirements on broadcasters are maintained to meet Gaelic public service requirements in analogue services and to support the development of a comprehensive Gaelic digital service defined as a public service broadcasting service.

7 June 2002


Gaelic Broadcasting Conference—24 May 2002


    —  There is considerable disappointment and anger in the Gaelic community that the recommendations of the Milne Report appear to have been set aside in the resulting published Draft Communications Bill

    —  The Gaelic organisations welcome the position taken in the policy statement accompanying the Draft Bill that the new Gaelic service be administered by a Gaelic agency, namely a strengthened and enhanced Gaelic Broadcasting Committee

    —  The seminar recognises the importance of the Communications Bill consultation process as a one-off opportunity to offer Gaelic speakers the service they deserve and have made a case for in a lengthy series of submissions

    —  The Gaelic television service to be delivered should be based on the model proposed by Milne

    —  The new Gaelic service must be adequately resourced and be supported by appropriate infrastructure

    —  There is a clear demand for a comprehensive and coherent Gaelic television service delivered on the widest possible range of platforms to enable maximum coverage and accessibility

    —  The seminar endorses the importance of a Gaelic television service in terms of its educational benefits, employment opportunities and social considerations

    —  Scheduling is of paramount importance and programmes should be delivered at appropriate times, based on the evidence accrued in the extensive research already available

    —  The Gaelic service should be designated as Public Service Broadcasting

    —  The new Gaelic service must be administered by a Gaelic agency and be seen to be a service for all Gaelic speakers and supporters of the language

    —  The interests of Gaelic viewers must be protected in terms of interim arrangements while analogue services are replaced by digital.

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